Description: mouth small; snout rounded to pointed (Ref. 52307). Outer jaw teeth mixed uni- and bicuspid, inner jaw teeth unicuspid, pharyngeal jaw teeth bicuspid; micro-gill rakers present; scales ctenoid (Ref. 53405).
Coloration: yellowish, with 6 black cross bars and a wide, black, opercular blotch; first bar located above opercular spot, the following 3 more or less distinctly prolonged unto dorsal fin, the third and sixth inflated at midpoint; distal margin of spinous part of dorsal fin light; no "tilapian" mark at beginning of soft part of dorsal fin, a character allowing distinction of this species from young Tilapia; pelvic fins dark with outer rays black (Ref. 53405). Dorsal, caudal and anal fins clear to pale bluish with small dots and/or lines; pelvic fins bluish to violet with a darker anterior edge; large black spot can usually be seen in the body's center, but can disappear at times; body scales typically with a blue iridescent center; some rows of small red spots may be present on anterior areas of body; when courting or aggressive, body coloration becomes brighter and scale centers become more intense, making entire fish appear bluish; when spawning, color pattern really changes as 5-6 dark vertical bars appear (with 1st running directly through eye) and gain intensity as broodcare progresses; as bars get darker, all other colors get toned down and fish looses its brilliance, becoming rather dusky in appearance; black bars rarely visible during non-spawning situations (Ref. 52307). Two other morphs are described from aquarium imports: (1) believed to have come from Guinea; black spot in middle of body more ovoid (vs. rounded); dorsal region with a black dot on every scale; basic body coloration more pale yellowish; most notable feature is presence of black bars on body in nearly every situation, these bars also broader and more intense during breeding; if not for the small pale bars in between, dark bars would sometimes make entire fish appear black (Ref. 52307). (2) based on a single specimen, possibly also from Guinea; body light brown with iridescent yellow on opercles and flanks; black lateral spot extremely small; body scales with bluish centers; thin longitudinal stripe sometimes visible (Ref. 52307). It is not clear whether these color morphs are really morphs of one species or represent separate species (Ref. 52307).